Saturday, August 14, 2010

God's Gardeners

Well. Margaret just came by and I think her comment was 'Wow'. So I think that's OK. Here's her twitpic of me in front of the store...

Just visited Jason Bull at Eastport Organics, www.eastportorg... on Twitpic

Now, back to harvesting peas.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

More Wwoofers, the first market of the year and the salad starts to flow...

The first market for us was last Saturday, and it was a good one. Lots of herbs, tomatoes, compost and seed were on the table at 9am, and hardly anything was left when it was all over at 2pm. Next market should be even better as the salad is now starting to flow.

We've started harvesting salad greens and are getting them out to our CSA members as they're ready to cut. Harvesting always needs to wait until the plants are mature enough to grow back and be re-cut.  Premature harvest (especially of stressed plants) can lead to poor root development from plants you plan to get 3-4 cuttings from.

Our second long-term woofer arrived Sunday all the way from North Dakota via the Cape Breton Highlands. Ben is busy hauling compost out into the trenches covering up the capelin and sawdust that will form our compost for next season and perhaps a few fall crops. Here he is getting a taste of our fencing project through black spruce (and black flies), so we should soon be ready to let the ponies run!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Current goings on

Really busy right now. Many fields to weed, compost, till and seed!
Here's a picture of the greenhouse chock full of plants. Can't wait to get them out in the fields. Still in there are five varieties of tomato, three var. of peppers, lots of herbs, squash, cucumber etc. Some plants already in the fields, but only small numbers here and there until all chance of frost has passed.

There's a tray of basil and tomato, some thyme plants and bigger tomato and pepper in the background of this shot.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

at play in the fields...

The old double-lunge with our Newfoundland Ponies. Coda looking to get in on the fun.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Gettin' 'er done!

Planting it up out here in the shire these days. Lots of greens are up and most of the peas, onion, kale, broccoli, celery, beet, leek, chard and a few other things are out in the fields or waiting to go in this weekend.

Been awhile since the last update. Dealing with permits from the town, business plan submissions to various agencies and building fences and coldframes. Farming in the modern age is a fine balance of hard work, savvy and creativity on all levels.

I won't be at the market in St. John's tomorrow. Just not enough heat units, and too much cold wet weather to get things to harvestable size out in the fields.

Photos are on the way from the past month around here. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kelp-fed Spinach & Lobster shell-fed Arugula. Two of my favourite things to munch on in Spring.


Outside now there are four cold-frames stuffed with Kelp-fed Spinach, Lobster shell-fed Arugula, Komatsuna, Drunken Woman Lettuce, Sweet Basil and Chard. In the greenhouse there are three tomatoe varieties, eggplants, cucumbers, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and two varieties of parsley started. In the house under lights are the rest of the early tomatoe's, more spinach just started, three varieties of hot sweet peppers, and some speckled butterhead lettuce.

The paddcok is coming along. Installed a bathtub for the boys to drink from (with a pump, hose and battery), finishing peeling the remainder of the logs for gates, supports and rails, burning up some brush leftover from this winters pruning and drinking tea by the fire this week also.

No photos to share this time, but there's no doubt the 2010 season is upon us here in The Shire.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Paddock project progress

The fence line is in for the paddock. Still some finishing and securing to do, but all of the rails are in place and a gate or two is still needed.

Very satisfying to see a home for the two ponies coming together before the busy spring season when I won't have so much time for them. There's just over an acre of land for them to run around on here, and that will be connected to the barn by the end of next month. They'll have free access to about 1200 square feet of open floor space in there, so all of it together should make a great place for them to hang out. I bet the WWOOFer's will love it too.

The back of the paddock leads out into the community forest, with Terra Nova National Park beyond. Future overnight rides into the park are definitely on the agenda.

Good times indeed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The St. John's Farmers Market is officially on our fan list!!

Eastport Organics listing is now on the St. John's Farmers' Market website!!

This is a big step in accessing the St. John's market, and will prove to be a foundation point for Eastport Organics.

Good start to the year on that end of things.

Now back to the fencing project. I'll post some images later on this project, which is coming along nicely. The ponies are eying the fence with some inquisitiveness.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Time out from farming to deal with a Community Forest issue.

The Eastport Community Forest Association recently came into being as a result of a key document arriving regarding governments intentions towards our communities right to have a say in the management of our adjacent natural resources. You can find the document at NL Outport Life.  It focuses on a few of the issues that had been outstanding and keeping our local process in limbo for the past year or so.

While not perfect, it goes a long way towards enabling communities along the coast of Newfoundland to have more of a say in how their future will unfold. So it's a good thing, and one which all involved should be proud to be a part of.

Sometimes this organic farmer is an activist too. Gotta fight the good fight after all.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fencing is ALOT of work

Started running some fence line through our woods today. Measuring where the rails will go between trees and where I need to put up posts. This might not seem like a big project (at least it didn't seem like that big a project to me when I dreamed it up), but it is huge.

I started two years ago. First step was cutting the rails, peeling them and sanding down the knots so they wouldn't rot. Then I had to trim each piece to fit the required lengths for the fence I'm planning. It will mostly run through woods and around the edge of already established fields, but some lengths of it will be through open field, and that part will require a free standing fence. Since I just lease the field, I'm just going to put up a 'Russel Fence'. Some call it a cariboo fence, I've also heard it referred to as a sawbuck fence.

Cutting and hauling all the fencing and materials to where you want to build a fence, especially if it's through wooded areas, is a massive job. I'd estimate I'm three quarters done with the work, and not one rail is up yet (but that'll soon change)! Pictures to follow in the next couple of days, it was too wet today to take the camera out.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Forestry is sometimes also part of farming

There are things to do in the woods in the winter. Tree pruning is one of them. What is tree pruning and why would I do it? Well, first of all its not what your Mom did around the house every fall with the roses and other shrubs. It's got to do with larger trees eventually destined for human use.

Tree pruning is actually a silviculture practice that, if done properly, will increases the amount of clear wood in a tree's bole. By clippping or sawing the lower branches off the bole (trunk) of a worthwhile tree, you can increase the amount of clear wood that the tree will produce after a number of years. Pruning increases the strength, value, and fibre continuity by reducing the number of knots in the bottom portion of the bole. Since the bottom of the tree is the largest part of bole this is where the majority of the value and volume is and coincidentally where pruning takes place.

There are various tools for pruning. The Japanese have nice tools, as do the Scandinavians. Some people have adapted hand saws, while others use good 'ol bucksaws, it really depends on the size and value of the tree you are working on. The type and quality of the pruning also depends on when you start to treat the individual trees (ie when they were spaces, how long they have been allowed to stretch out under a canopy of larger trees etc.).

Obviously the farther up the tree you prune, the more clear wood you will eventually get. Some tree species are more worthwhile pruning. Black spruce on a medium site will probably never produce a large bole, so it's not worth spending any amount of time pruning up 12-16ft., while a white spruce or larch on good site may be worthwhile as the end result could be a beautiful beam for a log home.

So that's what I'm up to these days, clearing out older forest (for firewood) so younger trees can establish underneath, pruning the more valuable trees, and assessing future sites for growing various forest food like mushrooms. So it all comes around again...

Lots to do, so little time...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The WWOOFer's are coming!! The WWOOFer's are coming!!

We have signed up to be a WWOOF host for the 2010 farm season. To find out about WWOOFing go to their

We have a number of wwoofer's already signed up and plan on accomadating more as the season moves into full swing.

Our wwoofer's will be helping with the day to day operations of the farm. They will probably also be enjoying the ponies, kayaks, sailboat, and hiking in the nearby national park. They may also wish to join guests in on trips with terra nova adventures, our affiliated adventure company.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A good life

Today was 'one of those days' to be thankful for. Up in the woods with a friend stacking and piling firewood and logs left behind from the past few years. Enjoying tea and snacks with just the grey jays to fill in the quiet times. No chainsaws, we used a bucksaw and an axe for the cleanup. There were a few trees fallen down over the past year, so we trimmed and cut them to haul out with the ponies later in the winter.

No snow to speak of yet, so great time to go over the past few years of cutting and burn up the limbs, tops and too rotten to burn bits and pieces, find any sawlogs left behind and stack up the firewood that sank or was buried by snow during the initial pass. A good mix of larch, spruce, fir and maple should make for some nice burning this winter and spring. Found a few spruce logs suitable for beams in the barn. As that project gets closer to reality more details are coming together like doorways and additional supports for the 'evolving' interior design.

Using a bucksaw and axe makes carrying the tools in and out much easier than lugging the chainsaw, fuel and tools about and it makes for a more relaxing day (at least on the senses). Sure can feel the upper body after the first few days though, whew. Wouldn't lose the chainsaw for cutting the larger stems during the initial pass though, just takes too much time unfortunately. Either need a larger axe or bigger bucksaw if I'm going to take it that far. Guess we'll see how necessary it becomes...

Friday, January 22, 2010

More wood hauling and the like

For the past week I've been in the woods clearing land, burning brush, and doing some more training with the ponies. Here's Elly helping with Laddy (who's a bit of a handful for her) for the day. Soon be ready to move up to a sleigh with him, he's pulling alone with me reining from behind now. MacKay is still just looking on (although he now comes along for the load trips and leads Laddy out, so that's at least some progress).

Moved a couple trailer loads of compost around to two coldframe sites where it'll be used this spring. It's frozen, but not too bad. Greenhouse next to the house is producing greens everyday, and there are now three plantings going in there.

First seed order of the year went in the other day. Spinach, Kale, and Leeks from Seeds of Change.

A big welcome to our new CSA members who signed up this week!

After a hard days work...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Japanese technology

A new tool showed up today from Seeds of Change. It's a small sickle the japanese use to harvest and weed known as a Usugama, or Kama. I'm hoping to use it as a tool for harvesting salad greens. A friend suggested it this summer and my 'beloved sister' bought it as a christmas gift for me. I thought it might be better than the large kitchen knives I've been using for the past couple of years. We'll see in a few months.

In the background are a few trays of spinach, arugula and komatsuna destined for the greenhouse in a week or so.

Had the ponies down on the beach for a run...

and then Zeus the cat demanded some attention...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Four Season Gardening

Four season's of food is one of my goals. Here I've got the coldframes in the greenhouse with heat-tracing wire run underneath the beds (it's on a timer and only comes on at night). Inside is spinach, kale, arugula and broccoli.
Just planted more seed for late winter (all the same greens as already growing). This idea came from Eliot Colemans excellent book "The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener".

Along with greens all the woody herbs are still alive inside. Sage, tyme and oregano fresh all year!

I hope to add to this idea next year at the site of the bigger barn. There I'll have a woodstove with a water jacket to provide heat via hot water piping underneath the beds. Should be tasty year round in Eastport starting next season!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Barns take time

Laddy gets ready for the big pull. He was better today, mostly hauled with no coaxing and didn't get skittish even though a tree spooked him a bit (for only his second real day of work that's pretty good).

The barn site is looking good, but since its the last day with no snow on the ground we'll probably have to wait on hauling out more wood. When the ground freezes up a bit they'll have more traction to pull. No fun for them when its just wet and slippery.

Doesn't look much different than yesterday but there's about 40 more logs in that pile that were scattered all over the place when we started this AM.

Laddy did a job on the turf as well, chewing it up a bit as he pulled out the wood piece by piece. There's a berm there in the back of the photo that was left behind when they cleared this land in the fifties.

Last green pictures of the winter, snow is falling as I write this. Soon be time for sleighrides in the winter wonderland!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

What we need is a good old-fashioned barn raising!!

Cleared a bit of land today. This is the site of the 40'x60' barn that goes up this winter/spring. It'll be framed with telephone poles, covered with a metal roof and have vertically overlapped wooden siding (known as cladding). Should make a good hay loft and materials storage facility. The poles you see are the fencing for the ponies. That'll extend out into the field and be movable. Bit of work there, hopefully the WWOOFer's can help with it when they get here! The second pic is the view of the field looking NNW from the NW corner of the barn site.
Not much accomplished in the fields today. Horses, woodcutting and submitting forms to government  prevailed.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Eastport Organics at work

Today was wood hauling day on the farm. Laddy hauled about ten loads of wood and really enjoyed himself it seemed, like he was finally getting to do something real (rather than just carry me all over the peninsula).

Turned one of the larger compost piles and everything looked good, some coarser tomato vines and mustard stems not broken down, but the fish offal, manure, vegetable waste and kelp are now sweet sweet plant food.

Did a bit of digging around some of the beds from last fall collecting the remainder of the spinach seed too, that might prove useful this winter in the greenhouse. Seed looked OK and will dry in a couple of days in the wood room where the dehumidifier is still running.

Pulled up the coriander / cilantro also. Will turn and lime that area tomorrow. Haven't done it in two years and the pH 'n' fertility is a bit low. The smell of cilantro is still on my hands. Mmmmm.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mom on the beach with Laddy (who's looking for treats in her pocket). MacKay is watching the waves roll. Wonder what he's thinking?

Foggy eh? This is what we'd call a 'mozzy day' in these parts. Very unseasonal weather. Cold air generated from the Labrador current meeting a warm southerly air mass.

Turned over a few compost piles today, dug in a bit of lime and harvested some red cabbage for supper.

Today the CSA forms went out to the local grocery stores! Ordering seed, replanting winter greens in the greenhouse and starting onions in trays in the house tomorrow, or the next.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Eastport Organics 2010 CSA

All this image can mean is one thing to those in the organic gardening game. Compost!

And that word could never could have rung truer than for this image taken at Northside Beach just down over the bank from the farm. We'll collect this washed-up kelp, load it up on the horse cart, and mix it into our special blend of compost materials to make the fertilizer for the food this coming summer. We'll also use some for a mulch to cover our garlic, rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries.

It's sure gonna make for some tasty salad this coming spring!!